Technological singularity

Hypothetical point in time when technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The technological singularity—or simply the singularity[1]—is a hypothetical future point in time at which technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unforeseeable changes to human civilization.[2][3] According to the most popular version of the singularity hypothesis, I.J. Good's intelligence explosion model, an upgradable intelligent agent will eventually enter a "runaway reaction" of self-improvement cycles, each new and more intelligent generation appearing more and more rapidly, causing an "explosion" in intelligence and resulting in a powerful superintelligence that qualitatively far surpasses all human intelligence.[4]

The first person to use the concept of a "singularity" in the technological context was John von Neumann.[5] Stanislaw Ulam reports a discussion with von Neumann "centered on the accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue".[6] Subsequent authors have echoed this viewpoint.[3][7]

The concept and the term "singularity" were popularized by Vernor Vinge first in 1983 in an article that claimed that once humans create intelligences greater than their own, there will be a technological and social transition similar in some sense to "the knotted space-time at the center of a black hole",[8] and later in his 1993 essay The Coming Technological Singularity,[4][7] in which he wrote that it would signal the end of the human era, as the new superintelligence would continue to upgrade itself and would advance technologically at an incomprehensible rate. He wrote that he would be surprised if it occurred before 2005 or after 2030.[4] Another significant contributor to wider circulation of the notion was Ray Kurzweil's 2005 book The Singularity is Near, predicting singularity by 2045.[7]

Some scientists, including Stephen Hawking, have expressed concern that artificial superintelligence (ASI) could result in human extinction.[9][10] The consequences of the singularity and its potential benefit or harm to the human race have been intensely debated.

Prominent technologists and academics dispute the plausibility of a technological singularity and the associated artificial intelligence explosion, including Paul Allen,[11] Jeff Hawkins,[12] John Holland, Jaron Lanier, Steven Pinker,[12] Theodore Modis,[13] and Gordon Moore.[12] One claim made was that the artificial intelligence growth is likely to run into decreasing returns instead of accelerating ones, as was observed in previously developed human technologies.